GPs: Govt target for free GP care 'not achievable'

A Government target for providing free GP visits for kids under six this summer is "not achievable", according to the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation.

The committee has issued a statement blaming the lack of progress on the issue since the measure was first announced.

Dr Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, said that the Government must now acknowledge that it is time to talk to GPs in a meaningful way.

Dr Walley said: "The current situation is that the Minister for Health and the Minister for Primary Care are seeking to impose an unworkable contract by diktat on GPs in circumstances where there are no real negotiations.

"It is unbelievable that, in the current environment GPs have been presented with a draft contract that effectively stops whistleblowing and now we are advised that legislation is being rushed through that will allow both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to set fees unilaterally and vary those fees as they see fit."

He expressed surprise at the timing of the events "given these very issues are before the courts and due to be heard in a matter of weeks".

He said: "The result of the change of tactics by Government in the way it is seeking to do business is a retrograde step.

"There has been widespread negative reaction to government proposals on the Draft Contract for Under 6s. The Ministers for Health and Primary Care must now start again by engaging in meaningful negotiations with the IMO on behalf of GPs. What GPs want for their patients is a new GMS Contract that will deliver care to all citizens with adequate resources to ensure quality care can be delivered in a safe, sustainable and effective way."

He said it is down to the Department of Health and HSE - both of which it says have presented plans to the IMO as a "fait accompli" - rather than engaging in meaningful negotiations.

Dr Walley said: "The result has been that the Minister has alienated the very people who he depends on to provide the care. Its amateur politics and had led to a situation where there is zero progress. Our GP members are appalled at the manner in which the Ministers are behaving and they have expressed grave concern about the ability of this Government to deliver upon political promises.

"The development of General Practice is key to a better health service, it is time to talk to those who deliver it. The IMO are calling on Minister Reilly and Minister White to cease the practice of threatening GPs with legislation and immediately commence real negotiations."

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